Brookfield Elementary is one of nine Fairfax County schools being considered to expand their all-day kindergarten classes. The county School Board is expected to approve the idea at its Thursday, July 24, meeting, and no one is happier than Brookfield Principal Kim Brown.
"We're thrilled that Brookfield was chosen," she said. "Last year, we used our own money to fund two, full-day kindergarten teachers." The 56 children in these classes were selected by lottery.
"It created a lot of success, so parents lobbied the School Board for it for this year," said Brown. "One of the most important things we saw was that — for our ESOL kindergartners coming in with little or no English — their English proficiency greatly increased. It made a definite difference."
The result was less ESOL students in first grade at Brookfield. "It went from almost 60 percent of first-graders in ESOL to about 44 percent," said Brown. "And that was with only two, all-day kindergarten classrooms."
Depending on enrollment, Brookfield is projected to have six, full-day kindergarten classes in the fall. "It's wonderful — everybody's excited," said Brown. "Teachers are so enthusiastic, and parent response has been wonderful. We can hardly wait."
She said longer class periods provide the time for more in-depth teaching and learning. "I feel that this will be such a boost and an advantage to the kids," she said. "We've invested a lot of our resources in the primary grades so children won't have to play catch-up [later on] to prepare them for the SOLs in grade three. This gives them a good foundation."
Brown said one of Fairfax County's goals is to have all students reading by the end of second grade. All-day kindergarten, she said, "will be such an important vehicle for us to reach that target."
<tgl> — Bonnie Hobbs